As someone who has worked in mail order for over 25 years, and has had to deal with all the problems of postal delivery of packages, I admit I am not convinced by all the hype about Amazon’s drone deliveries. It could work very well for a few things, but I think it won’t work for many deliveries.
For those who haven’t seen it, Amazon drone deliveries will reply on a person being at home, having a garden and going out to put down a mat onto which the drone can land.
So what are the problems?
- Big or heavy parcels – drones are small and light. If a customer orders a big or heavy product, I don’t think drones will be able to cope.
- Finding the delivery point – outside of work, I sometimes get involved in door-to-door delivery for community groups, with a list of addresses for certain streets. Suburban avenues are OK, but in town centre areas or blocks of flats, finding the right house can be very difficult. Sometimes I never find the address and resort to posting the item instead.
- People being at home – ask any postman or courier how many of those “You were out” cards they get through every day. I work from home and I regularly take parcels for both my neighbours because they aren’t there when the delivery turns up.
- Having a garden – well that rules out flats, small homes and deliveries to most businesses then.
- The weather – anyone who has ever flown a radio-control plane will tell you how even the slightest wind makes steering very difficult. When it rains, we all know that packages can get wet even if the postman is carrying around a trolley with the post in a bag. How wet will they get on a drone? And if the delivery is left in a garden for hours of rain, will it get so wet that the item could be ruined?
I think drone delivery could work for some addresses, for some items and where the customer is at home to receive the parcel. A retired person living in a suburban street would be perfect. But if you live in a block of flats in a city centre, or want a delivery at work, or if you commute and so don’t get home until late at night, I think the drone model will be more of a problem.
So don’t expect everything to change over to drones anytime soon.
And a final thought. Drones use fuel, and the further the delivery or the heavier the item, the more fuel they will use. Will Amazon stock to a blanket delivery fee, or will they start charging more for bigger items or items further from their depot?